Environmental Products

Up the creek in a concrete canoe

Valparaiso University (VU) engineering students from the VU chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers have built a concrete canoe, hoping it floats in the concrete canoe competition at the Great Lakes in Illinois. 
VU?s canoe will go against entries from other engineering institutions like Purdue University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the Illinois Institute of Technology. 
The canoes must pass a series of tests including manned canoe races, and a ?swamp? test where the canoe must stay afloat after being swamped with water. 
?It has to be light enough to float, yet strong enough to survive,? said Ben Oelschlaeger, one of the eight member canoe building team. 
To pass the competition tests, the five metre, 136kg (18 foot, 300 pound) canoe must be composed of concrete that is less dense than water, another member Eileen Carmignani explained. 
Nick Feller said the group used ?normal? cement mix, with a twist. ?We needed to take out the filler and replace it with something that is less dense,? Feller said. The team used plastic chips made from laundry soap bottles, bits of tyres and glass beads. 
Although the team has been working on the design and materials since August, the boat was finally mixed and cast on campus on 16 November. Students first created a mould from foam board, joint compound and plastic sheeting and then poured in the cement mixture. The boat will ?cure,? for 28 days, and then the team will release the canoe from its form in January.
 ?We named it Wingin? It because that?s what we are doing!? Michael Salguero quipped. 
The team is grateful for cement donations from Smith Ready-Mix. 
Sources: Valpo Community

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